ATHENS — The Greek government has announced a one-week strict lockdown starting Sunday, in a bid to relieve pressure on the health system.
The decision was taken for “precautionary reasons” so that schools can reopen on January 11.
“The cases still remain at high levels and pressure on the national health system persists; our hospitals continue to treat a large number of patients,” said government spokesman Stelios Petsas.
“We must do what we can to improve the epidemiological situation in the country, so that we can gradually return to a form of normalcy, and first of all to enable our children to return to schools.”
Shops and services that opened up during the Christmas holidays, including hairdressers, nail salons, bookstores and churches, will now shut down until January 11. A nighttime curfew will also be tightened, with movement restricted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Fishing and hunting will also be prohibited.
The government hopes that after a week, non-essential shops will be able to reopen using a “click-and-collect” system, where customers can pick up the products they have bought online or by phone.
Greece entered a second national lockdown in early November, in an effort to halt a surge in coronavirus infections, with some of the measures relaxed over the holidays.
People are allowed to leave home for work, shopping, visiting a doctor or exercising.
Cases in Greece, which coped wth the first wave better than many European countries, began to rise gradually over the summer and soared in mid-October. Health authorities have registered a total of 139,447 COVID-19 cases and 4,881 deaths up to January 1.